Cerf: “This Is The Moment. The Biggest Risk as We Go To Local Control Is That Lurking In the Background Is a Real Transactional Mentality.”

Last week in The 74 I analyzed the legacy of Chris Cerf’s tenure in New Jersey, both as Commissioner of Education and, more recently, as state-appointed Superintendent of Newark Public Schools. Part of my analysis came from a conversation we had last month and I wasn’t able to work all the content into the article. So, in the interest of completeness, here are some of his answers to other questions I posed to him. Waters: …

What If We Held Traditional School to the Same Standards As Charter Schools?

The Star-Ledger reports that the International Academy of Trenton (IAT), a public charter school serving grades K-5, is being shut down for failing to meet student academic and social needs: Kimberley Harrington, then commissioner of the Department of Education, in a Jan. 12 letter to IAT said the state was not renewing the charter because the academy “failed to provide a strong educational program and sustained organizational stability.” A school performance report shows many students …

An Addendum to the Four Education Promises Gov. Murphy Can’t Keep

I have a piece in The 74 called “Four Education Promises New Jersey’s New Governor Can’t — or Shouldn’t — Keep.” If I had a time machine I’d ride back about two weeks (pre-deadline) and add a little more content to one of Governor Murphy’s promises, specifically the one he made to at the 2016 NJEA Convention (and other venues): When asked whether he’d follow NJEA’s instructions and get rid of assessments aligned with college/career …

Out-going DOE Deputy Commissioner On How New Jersey’s Recent Education Changes Help Students

(This is a guest post by Peter Shulman who was, until very recently, Deputy Commissioner of the Education for New Jersey. He helped drive policy to improve the academic achievement and life outcomes of approximately 1.4 million students. He directly supervised the Divisions of Talent, Performance, Information Technology and led education priorities including the development of a new comprehensive school accountability system under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.) Over the past 7 years, New …

Lakewood Fiscal Monitor: “This Entire District, When it Comes to the Staff, I Would Say It’s a Culture of Fear.”

Once again Lakewood Public Schools has failed QSAC, formally known as the Quality Single Accountability Continuum. That’s a mouthful but it’s pretty simple: every three years districts are rated — both by themselves and the state — on five areas of competency: Instruction and Program; Fiscal Management; Governance; Operations; and Personnel. In order to pass, districts have to get an 80 percent on every section and if they meet that mark they are categorized as …

Freehold, SOS-NJ, and Valerie Strauss: An Example of the Proliferation of Fake News

You know fake news is being normalized when an organization that flaunts its supposedly grassroots progressive pedigree engages in Trumpery. Okay, maybe that’s a little harsh. But Save Our Schools-NJ really needs to check its facts before it misleads its followers about New Jersey high school graduation requirements. Here’s the timeline. On November 21st, Charles Sampson, the Superintendent of Freehold Regional High School District, posted a piece on the district website that (still!) says, NJs …

Was Lakewood Board of Education’s Hiring of Attorney Inzelbuch Legal? NJ Attorney General Says “Maybe Not.”

The letter below was sent to me by a kind reader who wishes to remain anonymous. This letter was procured from Lakewood Public Schools under the Freedom of Information Act. It is addressed to Lakewood’s superintendent Laura Winters and Board President Moshe Bender, and references the Board’s recent hiring of attorney Michael Inzelbuch at $600,000 per year, plus numerous benefits. For background, see this post where  I catalogue the Board’s disregard of the rules of …

Five Maxims for Phil Murphy

At a town hall in Montclair this past weekend, Phil Murphy held forth on the four New Jersey school districts — Jersey City, Paterson, Newark, and Camden — that over the last twenty-four years have been taken over by the state.  “In every  case, 100 percent of cases, state takeovers are of communities of color — that’s a fact, whether it is the school district or the entire community. And,” added Murphy indignantly, “ I …

When School Choicers Start to Behave Like the Establishment: Charter Schools Protecting Turf Against Another Charter School

This is a guest post by Bob Bowdon, the Executive Director of Choice Media, an education news service, website and smartphone app. Is it possible for charter schools to protect their turf at the expense of educational choices for children and families — just like traditional district schools? Say it ain’t so, Joe. After being approved to open this fall by the New Jersey Department of Education, the new College Achieve Charter School of Asbury Park …

The Grown-Up Version of PARCC: Can We Measure Up?

The New Jersey Department of Education just released our children’s 2017 scores on the state standardized PARCC tests in language arts and math. The news is good: students improved in both subjects. And, yet, the news is hard to hear because scores aren’t as high as we’re used to seeing on our older tests, ASK (grades 3-8) and HSPA (the former high school diploma qualifying test).  After all, unvarnished appraisals of student achievement are hard …